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Attention database fans: New SQL Server ‘08 bits available

Microsoft has made a new SQL Server 2008 code available for testers. Click here to download this, the second, Community Technical Preview (CTP) of the database.

This CTP includes more functionality around the enterprise reporting engine, T-SQL, database mirroring and XML support according to the this company Web site. The first CTP came out in early June at Tech Ed.

Microsoft execs said last month that the company will start prepping partners on SQL Server 2008 (aka Katmai) marketing plans in October. The final product is due in the second quarter of next year.

While some say the shift from “beta test” drops to CTP releases is semantic sleight of hand, Microsoft officials and some outsiders say it’s actually a substantive change.

CTP releases are more frequent and tend to include big “blobs” of related functionality.

The idea is to provide like-minded testers with bigger chunks of useable code that they can really hammer on for the tasks they care about. A beta drop tended to have broader but less developed sets of functions.

“The focus here is on quality of code,” Kim Saunders, senior director of SQL Server Marketing said at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference last month. The overall aim is to ensure the company delivers a fully tested new database release every three years or so.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston-area journalist, can be reached at badarrow@comcast.net.

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